Motorists face more parking fines

Errant motorists across Norfolk face more parking fines when councils get the powers to hand out tickets next year.Police have formally asked the county council to take on parking enforcement from April next year as they seek to switch funds currently used to pay for wardens towards providing more police community support officers (PCSOs).

Errant motorists across Norfolk face more parking fines when councils get the powers to hand out tickets next year.

Police have formally asked the county council to take on parking enforcement from April next year as they seek to switch funds currently used to pay for wardens towards providing more police community support officers (PCSOs).

There are 117 council-run schemes in the country including Norwich City Council, which employs 29 parking attendants and raked in about £400,000 from fines in the last financial year.

By contrast a report to the county council's planning and transportation review panel suggests that motorists are flouting the rules because the low numbers of wardens meant there was little chance of them being handed tickets.

“The police employ fewer than 20 traffic wardens countywide outside of Norwich,” it said. “This number results in ineffective enforcement in the minds of many citizens.

“When the public understands that the county council is taking over responsibility there is likely to be an expectation in some quarters of improved enforcement particularly in rural areas.”

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And it warned that more fines would be needed to help the service pay for itself.

“To be financially viable it may be necessary to issue more penalty charge notices that presently are issued by the traffic warden service,” it added.

Officers are recommending an £85,000 study to see how a scheme would be best run across the county.

Options could include a countywide enforcement scheme, handing powers to district councils or employing a private firm to do the work.

In west Norfolk, the borough council is already lobbying to run its own scheme after commissioning consultants to investigate its viability.

The move comes amid fears that the numbers of traffic wardens have been declining ahead of the switch over with policing 'poaching' wardens to become PCSOs.

In Yarmouth over the next two weeks two traffic wardens are set to patrol an area which was looked after by eight last summer.

It follows news that north Norfolk will have no warden for the next month after its one retired - sparking fears of a parking free-for-all.

Barry Coleman, leader of Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “We have been concerned for some time about the lax attitude that the police have been taking to employing traffic wardens. We have told them this really isn't good enough, particularly somewhere like Yarmouth where the through flow of traffic is important,” he said.

As parking offences were soon to be decriminalised, he said, police seemed to have lost interest in pursuing cases.

But last night police said there were 25 wardens working across the county and the number had been constant for a number of years. Of those eight are based in the city to help with traffic management.

Supt Glyn Evans, who heads the force's community safety department, said: “The constabulary is liaising with the council to ensure that the process for it to take over the enforcement runs as smoothly as possible. The force is keen to ensure there are no gaps and will assist the council in which ever way it can.”